The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

(jazz music) – The most important
scale exercise in jazz. Now, this is of course
a really bold claim. But at the same time, if you play jazz, you know that one of the
most important things that we use is arpeggios. If you play a jazz solo,
then usually the solo will follow the chord progression
that is being played over. And we do this most
commonly by using arpeggios. You can of course use the arpeggio of each of the chords that you are
playing over in the progression, but actually there are more arpeggios available that can work really well. And I’m gonna return to that
a little later in this video. You’re probably also already
practicing arpeggios, but I’m sure that’s a better
and more efficient way of doing this that’s
going to help you use them when you’re soloing and
tie everything together. And that’s what I want to
talk about in this video. My name is Jens Larsen. If you want to learn jazz and make music, then subscribe to my channel and click the bell notification icon
so you don’t miss anything. (jazz guitar music) Most of the time, I see people practicing arpeggios in positions like this. And that’s not wrong,
but when you play a solo, you don’t want to think
about using one pattern for your arpeggio and
another one for the scale. You want to use two that
really fit together, and you also want to
practice your arpeggios in a way that you can use them
in your lines really easily. First, I’ll show you
how to play the diatonic arpeggios in the scale, and
then I’m going to talk about how you can use that in your playing in a more natural musical way. This is easier, because
when you’re practicing the arpeggios in the scale,
then you can easily mix them with the scale notes and you are much more free to use them and mix both arpeggio and scale into your playing. In the beginning, I’m just gonna use the arpeggio of the chord itself. In fact, I’m going to use a C major seven arpeggio over a C major chord. But later, I’m going to add
some more arpeggios to that, and that’s gonna be really
easy because you already practiced them doing the exercise. Let’s just start with a basic scale. So this is a C major scale
in the eighth position. (jazz guitar music) And if I play the diatonic arpeggios in this scale, then we get this. (jazz guitar music) So this works really well for
any kind of scale position. And of course it works
just the same if you want to do it with harmonic
minor or melodic minor. And the only place you have
to watch out a little bit is if you’re playing cased scale systems. Because there are, especially
with melodic minor, harmonic minor, the
fingerings can be a little bit messy or tricky to figure out. You might need to think about
what you want to do with, the two other systems are a
little bit more consistent when it comes to that, so they’re a little bit easier to do this with. At least that’s my experience. If you have another
experience within this, then please leave a comment in this video. When you’re playing this
exercise, then one of the things you do want to be aware of
is you don’t have to think about each note, but
you kind of want to know which arpeggio you are playing. ‘Cause that’s useful later when you want to start to use them, so
you have an idea about where am I going to find
a F major seven arpeggio, where am I going to find
an A minor seven arpeggio. When you play this, it
can be useful to also just practice it, saying the arpeggios. So C major seven.
(guitar music) D minor seven.
(guitar music) E minor seven.
(guitar music) F major seven, and so on and so forth. And that way, that you’re aware of where to find the different arpeggios. And of course, when you’re doing that, you’re also practicing learning all the diatonic chords of a scale. It’s really useful information that you definitely want
to have in your system. Now that you can play the arpeggios, because this exercise is not too difficult to get into your system,
then we can start working on using the arpeggios to make some music. Because that’s really
what the result of this, where we get the benefit
of doing this exercise. And here, I’m going to use
a C major seven arpeggio to make a line over a C major seven chord. So, and example of that
could be something like this. (jazz guitar music) So here, I’m just using
(guitar music) first just a basic C major seven arpeggio. And then a short melody,
(guitar music) coming out of the scale. Another example where I
start mixing the arpeggio with the scale and also
using some chromaticism, because that makes it sound
a little bit more like jazz will be something like this.
(jazz guitar music) So here, I’m first playing
a part of the arpeggio. (guitar music)
Then I’m inserting a scale note in between.
(guitar music) And because I’ve practiced
the arpeggio in the scale, then I already know what
notes are in between. So that’s really easy to do.
(jazz guitar music) Then a bit of chromaticism.
(guitar music) And then skipping up,
(guitar music) to end on the ninth of the C major seven. (jazz guitar music) A really great variation on this exercise that is also immediately
something you can turn into some great lines
is to play the arpeggios as triplets, and then add a chromatic leading note in front of the root. So that sounds like this.
(jazz guitar music) So this is really simple,
fiddle with how it works for an E minor seven arpeggio. So I have my E minor seven
arpeggio in the scale here. (guitar music)
And then I’m just adding a leading note in front of
that, so that’s a D sharp. (guitar music)
And then playing the E as a triplet, so,
(guitar music) landing on the D, and so I’m
really emphasizing that D as the highest note in the phrase. (guitar music)
And this really sounds great if you’re using it in lines. And the sound of that could
be something like this. (jazz guitar music) So here I’m just playing
first, we’re starting on the D. Then I’m going down to the B, to play the C major seven arpeggio. (guitar music) And then just adding this ascending melody after that from the C major scale. A similar idea using some chromaticism and then an octave higher on
the C major seven arpeggio. (jazz guitar music) So here again starting on the D, but then going down and
playing the arpeggio with a leading note.
(guitar music) And then I’m adding a
chromatic passing tone between D and C.
(guitar music) Skipping down to the fifth
of the chord, so the G. (guitar music) (jazz guitar music) Do you also use this way
of working with arpeggios and connecting arpeggios and
scales, or do you have another way of doing that, that
works better for you? Let me know in the comments. Now we can use a C major seven arpeggio over C major seven chord. But since we’re practicing
all the arpeggios, then it could be really useful
to have a few more options available because you
already practiced them. So we just need to get used to using them over the C major seven chord, and then we have a lot
more options to work with. To figure this out, then
let’s just look at why an arpeggio works over a chord. If I’m playing a C major seven chord, (guitar music)
then the reason why a C major seven arpeggio sounds good (guitar music) is that I’m actually playing the notes that are also found in the chord. So of course, if I’m playing an E, which is in the C major seven arpeggio, then that sounds good
on a C major seven chord because there’s an E
in that chord as well. If we then want to find some
more arpeggios that we can use, then we should look for the
arpeggios that have a lot of common tones with the
chord that we’re playing over. And that’s actually not that
difficult to figure out. Because if you look at a C major seven, then that’s C, E, G, and B.
(guitar music) Now, finding an arpeggio that
has a lot of common tones with that one, well, if we start on E, so the third of the chord,
and then go up there, then,
(guitar music) three of the notes are the
same as the C major seven. And then we’re adding a D. So if we listen to how D sounds
on top of the C major seven, (guitar music)
that’s a nine. That sounds really okay. So that means that
(guitar music) E minor seven is a really good choice. And that actually works
for most chords like this, if you can use the arpeggio
from the third of the chord. So for D minor, you want
to use an F major seven. For an A minor, you want
to use a C major seven. Really thinking about what
is the third of the chord, what is the diatonic arpeggio
that you can use there. And that’s also why you want to know your diatonic chords and
your diatonic arpeggios for all the scales that you use. The reason that I can keep on
publishing videos every week is that there is a community
of people over on Patreon that are supporting the channel. I’m very grateful for their support. And it’s because of them
that I can keep on making all these guest guitar
and music theory videos. If you want to help me keep making videos, then check out my Patreon page. And if you join us over on
Patreon, I can also give you something in return for your support. So if we’re using the
E minor seven arpeggio over a C major seven chord,
we can make lines like this. (jazz guitar music) So here, I’m really
using the bebop exercise with the leading note.
(guitar music) And then playing the E
minor seven arpeggio. (guitar music) And then I’m adding this, which is actually a quarter arpeggio, which I’m going to talk
about in another video. And then ending on the
fifth of the chord, G. And another example with
a bit more chromaticism, and also the higher version
of the E minor seven arpeggio would be something like this.
(jazz guitar music) So here, I’m first just
playing some chromaticism. (guitar music)
Leading me to the E. And now I’m just playing up the arpeggio. (guitar music) And then ending on the ninth of the chord, which is the D.
(guitar music) (jazz guitar music) And just to show you how
powerful this really is, if we use this on our very
common progression in C major, so a two, five, one in the key of C major, then we have D minor seven,
G seven, to C major seven. On the D minor seven, I can use the D minor seven arpeggio of course. (guitar music)
And I can use the arpeggio from the third, so the third is F. The arpeggio is F major seven.
(guitar music) Then we have G seven,
(guitar music) so that’s just the G seven arpeggio. The third is B.
(guitar music) And it’s a B half diminished arpeggio from that note in C major, so.
(guitar music) Then we have C major seven. First, C major seven, then the third is E. And there we have an E minor seven. (guitar music) And if we turn it into
a really basic line, that would sound something like this. (jazz guitar music) If you want to check out some
more ideas on how you can use these arpeggios on a two, five, one, then check out this video,
where I’m really focusing on using diatonic arpeggios
on a two, five, one. And it’s also in the key of C major. So now that you’ve already
watched this video, it’s gonna be really easy to follow. If you want to learn
more about jazz guitar, and this is the first time
you’ve seen one of my videos, then subscribe to my channel. If you want to help me keep making videos, then check out my Patreon page. That’s about it for this time, thank you for watching,
and until next time.


  1. What do you consider the most important way to practice scales? 🙂
    I think this can be a very useful discussion with a lot of great information!

    0:00 Intro

    0:13 Arpeggios!

    0:52 Improve How you Practice – Tie It All Together

    1:38 How to Use This and Improve your solos

    1:54 The Scale

    2:01 The Diatonic Arpeggios in the Scale

    2:20 A few thoughts about Scale Fingerings Systems

    2:42 Know what you are playing.

    3:39 #1 Making Music with the material from this exercise

    3:55 #2 Add some chromatic notes

    4:21 Examples #1 and #2 Slow

    4:30 Adding a bit of Bebop Rhythm

    5:12 #3 Bebop Arpeggio Lick

    5:33 #4  Bebop Arpeggio Lick

    5:54 Examples #3 and #4 Slow

    6:03 Do you work like this with connecting Scales and Arpeggios

    6:11 Finding more Arpeggios that work on a chord.

    6:30 Why an Arpeggio works Over a Chord

    7:04 Constructing another arpeggio and adding a 9th

    7:47 Taking this concept through a few chords

    8:11 #5 Using The Em7 arpeggio

    8:35 #6 Using The Em7 arpeggio

    8:57 Examples #5 and #6 Slow

    9:06 Finding more options for a II V I.

    9:46 Basic Bebop II V I with this idea

    9:55 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

  2. Jens great scale !! Thanks !!
    just curious ….You have bothe 335 body style guitars …yes the Ibanez clone ans the Gibson original 335….!!!!!

    Does the Ibanez comes real close to the Gibson 335 ???

  3. Great stuff

  4. Practised it thru diatonic series one diatonic arp @ a time thru “the cycle” returning to C then adding the nxt diatonic arp etc until all diatonic shapes r learnt. Gr8 way 2 “git it into ur soul”. Have learnt pt-2: chromatic lead-note & triplet arps thru the series. When I return to dorian I let it resolve to the Maj 7th o/t Tonic … neat lick/feels like jazz even tho’ it’s just an exercise. Pt-3 yielded a Robbin’s Nest idea … so now I’ll practice that thru the cycle😎

  5. I played bass in a band almost professionally in a high school and university 40 years ago. Now retired and decided to start playing 6 strings guitar – blues, jazz, fusion. So, I’m not completely dummy. Sure you made a great job, but… what for? I think lessons like this one wouldn’t be useful just because you don’t let your subscribers even possibility to understand what you are talking about. Look at the lesson from the position of someone who wants play jazz. What is the target of the lesson? Too much different information and… you speak really TOO fast – but we need time to follow your logic. And we do not have to stop this video 100 times to do it, right? So please think about. Also, probably you need to see Larry Carlton lessons on TrueFire channel – it would really help to understand how to teach.

  6. I don't agree with "The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz". All scales are equally important. I find the Aebersold books the best when it comes to this subject. Volume 54 is a great example for learning musicians. The Aebersold Scale Syllabus is the best that I have ever seen, and I've looked at a lot of books and videos. Also his contemporary voicings for jazz guitar, which make understanding chords and their parent scales so much easier.

  7. Jens Larsen…Thanks for your lesson.

  8. Wow this is precious information very well put together and explained 🙏 Thanks for this and keep up the great work!

  9. I don't play and don't even listen to Jazz, but that kind of scales is something it would be interesting to learn somehow.

  10. Brilliant lesson. Got a Eureka moment.

  11. save your video, thanks Jens…

  12. Can I learn jazz if I'm not black?

  13. 2:12 – * doesn't resolve to the root*

  14. hi jens thank you so much, now i begin to understand how harmonies in different chords work. its not everything to play the scale along with all positions. which means less is more 😀

  15. Broke a scale and it became an arpeggio
    In a bad mode…

  16. Thanks a lot, last 2 days around the video learning… Great material, learning a lot; on top of that, way teh scales are visually presented are "user-frinedly" and very well organized. I've looked through plenty of lesson videos and this is on TOP3.

  17. Nice im very like how you to give totorial guitar

  18. 👍🏆🤗 thanks for sharing the details ☺️

  19. Outstanding video tutorial. Thank you Jens! In addition to guitar I also play saxophone. I've applied the same principles to some tenor solos and they sound terrific.

  20. Unlike so many others on Youtube all of your tutorials are useful.

  21. I have been searching this for a month haha. Thank you so much! You inspire us to do more!

  22. Nice video. Thanks a lot… Only one advise: Try not to talk too much 😛

  23. Beautifully broken down into bite size chunks- FINALLY better understand what’s going on in more complex jazz according to theory- will continue to like and study ur vids. -Chris

  24. Nice sound of the guitar.

  25. Maybe you're a real good musician. But you are not the real good teacher, too much information and too too too fast.

  26. Fantastic thank you. Ps, are you from Graz?

  27. Great sound Jens!

  28. This lesson moves fast but brilliant, thanks Jens! Much appreciated!

  29. though I am hardly there, this is what I aspire to on guitar

  30. Just curious – how do you tend to pick triplets? Because it's an odd number alternate picking doesn't really work if you want the downbeat to always be played with a down-stroke. Seems to me consecutive down-strokes need to be involved – or do you use sweeping where possible?

  31. Great lesson i've learned a lot but at 5:54 first two notes sound so disonant (imo they somehow collide with the notes bass is playing) maybe in a context they would sound right idk

  32. God bless you bro for sharing your knowledeg

  33. Your explanation is very clear, I've been searching for this kind of information and you do it very simple, for someone who knows nothing about jazz and just practice scales this is a different world and just give me a different concept of music, thanks so much¡¡

  34. very helpful video, glad it was in my recommended

  35. Fantastic videos· Thaks a lot. Mucha gracias por sus estupendos videos (Spain).

  36. Thank you so much for this great lesson 👍 I’m just getting started with this video, (i just found your channel) but I’m very interested in learning more, again…. thank you so much 🙏

  37. I hope you see this, im confused why did your first example of the c major scale started in a B note?

  38. Thank you Mr. J. Larsen. This really helped me in understand arpeggios in jazz and the passing notes of chromatics..

  39. Thank you

  40. Thanks this is a very cool video! I appreciate the help

  41. What a great lesson friend! In a few minutes you gave us some precius information in a way everybody can understand! I am also a teacher and play guitar for 30 years, but I am Rock/Blues guitar player and in recent years I am trying to play Jazz, the theoy is the same, but the way Jazz musicians see is a little diferent, is much more focused in the melody and phrasing! Your videos are really espetacular, They help us to see how a Jazz guitar player put things together and aply It in a very melodic and musical sense, You are a great musician and an excellent teacher! Congratulations from Brazil!

  42. Thanks a lot master!

  43. Mr Larsen,you are a great teacher,thank you for sharing your knowledge on this diatonic class discussion!!👌

  44. Sounds good 👍

  45. All the arpeggios I use. M7, M7b5, 7th, Maj 7th. You missed M7b5 added 9th, 7th added 6th, and full Maj 7th which is a 13th arpeggio. I enjoy your channel you break down jazz and play what I know, there are still a few tricks. Keep it going!

  46. I would be a much better guitarist if 50 years ago we'd had Youtube and talented teachers like this to take the time to upload videos to learn from. I used to torture everybody learning from records playing a lick over and over again.    Thanks for your time and knowledge.

  47. Thanks Jens this helps — learning so much from watching. Thank you so much for sharing/ making a huge difference in helping us learn to play jazz and have success!

  48. Absolutely fantastic! thank you so much

  49. Thanks Master of guitarr for you lectión from jazz ecxelnt 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

  50. It seems you dont have a passion for sunburst

  51. brillante

  52. Approaching a particular scale in all all twelve keys diagonal and vertical all over the board(dotting out the arpeggios)

  53. My son admires you very greatly he says you're the best guitar player online the best jazz teacher more importantly. His name is Frankie he says that you have graciously taught him about various things regarding a guy named Pat Martino. Anyway I just want to say thank you by my son's become better at his craft.

  54. Great stuff, very helpful and you presented the material in a simple and straight forward fashion.Thanks

  55. I agree with the previous comments. Great advice well spoken.

  56. I never had money to learn a music theory..I got some basics idea of music through YouTube videos. But Jazz is a genre that I always found it hard and complicated to understand. Fortunately I came across your learning in the most simplest and the best way. Thank you Sir.

  57. Be bop a da doop de doo da doo da daa dar.

  58. Most important? Right up there with greatest guitarists greatest solos etc. music version of click bait. Whatever.

  59. Why don't you just play man? Stop talking! You play a little co*k teaser and then stop and start yammering! I can't even hear your backing track.
    Don't go into teaching!

  60. I only just started practicing arpeggios with the color tones of the chord. For example, I have been experimenting with not just the C, E, G, and B in the major chord, but extending to the D, F#, and A. By isolating and playing the color tones over the triads, I have started to discover some cool arpeggios. Who would have thought that a Bm arp over a Cmaj7 chord would sound so fresh?

    I have been watching your videos for a long time. Thank you for all that you do. Sometimes I feel like I am the only jazz guitar player in the region where I live, so it is really nice to have some media to watch when I do not have people to talk to.

    Peace and blessings, my friend.

  61. 8:46 It's a meee Maaaariooo!

  62. Gosh Mr. Larsen, what a wealth of knowledge you share here! Thank you <3

  63. Thanks mate, this video cleared lots of complications for me

  64. Finally!!! I've found a lesson that makes sense on how to do lines in jazz! Thanks Mr. Larsen. Arpeggio, off we go!

  65. Superb…..!

  66. Hey Jens, Wonderful to see how quickly you have grown your teaching video series. Question, In this video you present the C scale full range within a position. The arpeggios are presented 1 octave from the root within the scale. At what point do you like (as a teacher) to integrate full range position scale with full range position arpeggios?

  67. 2:11 pff net 2uur zitten oefenen kan het nog niet. maar heb het alvast onthouden.

  68. nice tutorial keep it up sir

  69. I'm a first time viewer and guitar fanatic. Admittedly not much of a jazz player but this video was by far the best jazz instructional video I've ever watched. I'm now a subscriber. Your lesson was so interesting. You made scales interesting and fun. Really smart. Thanks.

  70. Quite useful! Thank you!

  71. His editing of his videos is fantastic, which allows him to get to the point and not waste viewers' time. Most every teacher on Youtube doesn't understand this, and they bore people with long, self-serving introductions and sales pitches.

  72. I have learned so much from you in the last five minutes. Thank you. Do you offer private lessons?

  73. Nice work Jens, keep these 2-5-1 – chromatic lines coming just great stuff!

  74. thanks for this video, i learn a lot!!!!

  75. Encore beaucoup de blabla et peu de pratique…. les paroles deconcentrent

  76. Jens, u are cool!

  77. Really great LESSON

  78. 👍👍👍

  79. Wow Jens! Fantastic. Thank you!!

  80. This was a real eye opener! I've been stumbling around trying to tie this together. You made it simple. Thank you.

  81. wow! it's been what I've been looking for. Thanks Jens Larsen

  82. Watching your videos makes me want to go to music school. I'm not at a level to fully understand this lesson, but it is a joy to listen to you teach!

  83. Obrigado! Thanks for this.

  84. so shame that i can't read tabs, so i have to replay so many time, to capture your finger position, thanks for sharing.

  85. Beautiful, thanks! 🙂

  86. Very interesting lesson! Thank you very much

  87. Hola Jens, que buena lección, no entendí todo porque no hablo ingles, pero tendrás estas clases por escrito? Saludos

  88. Hi Jens,

    I emailed you before and I have another question.

    As I said last time, I have been taking jazz guitar lessons one-to-one locally her in Cornwall, but I also watch several YouTube videos and yours are especially useful.

    My lessons have been invaluable in actually understanding and clarifying jazz, but it is and continues to be an uphill slog. I compare it to silt accumulating along a river bank, slowly but surely making progress, but the emphasis is on slowly. However . . .

    At the beginning 9/10 of the stuff my tutor spoke of went right over my head, but I kept very quiet, didn’t complain and hoped for the best and by and by and bit by bit it began to make more sense. It’s like an inverted pyramid – the more you know, the more you begin to understand. And because of that I gain more and more from your videos.

    But now to my question: there’s the ‘thinking’ in jazz guitar, the kind of thing you approach in our videos – in the video I am now watching combining the notes from straightforward scales with the notes from diatonic scales, AS WELL – most important – as coming up with interesting and attractive melody lines. And I wonder how much time do you and other spend on our own ‘working stuff out’?

    Obviously when you play with your band there is a certain amount of ‘working things out together’ with the emphasis on ‘together’ but each musician must also come prepared – he/she can’t waste the time of others ‘learning’ what should have been learnt beforehand.

    To approach my question from another angle: I am finding it a little difficult in practice amalgamating the slowly accumulated ‘theoretical’ knowledge I am acquiring with the ‘practical playing’ and, to put it bluntly, how to go about things.

    How do you and others go about it? Do you actually do ‘homework’ in your spare time and what do you DO when you do that homework. (I have long been persuaded that genius is not born but the result of application. Possibly a ‘genius’ might simply be someone born with a tendency to apply him/herself more than others.

    Maybe another video on that aspect of it all.

    With my best wishes, Patrick.

    PS I am half-German and often visit my sister who lives in Ostfriesland (just a few miles from Bad Nieuweschans on the Dutch/German border) so I shall keep an eye out for your concerts.

  89. Another excellent lesson!!! Thanks, Jens!

  90. top ! very useful

  91. Jens, gracias por el video, me es de mucha utilidad, saludos desde Argentina.

  92. 0:53

  93. The intro notes to the arpeggio sounds like So Nice (Summer Samba ) by Antonio Carlos Jobim (Cmaj7)

  94. I studied from the great Ted Greene, and from Dick Grove. These are by far the best lessons available anywhere for advanced and pro guitarists.

  95. Really good instructional video ! Really lots of good stuff in just 10 minutes.. you can just pause and learn every single lick.. but the most important is how to practice and what to grasp of every musical phrase.. I'm obsessed about the caged system. I think if you apply these concepts in the context of a tune and map the fingerboard over each chorus, you are basically filling all those gaps sistematically. The guitar is a strange instrument in the sense that you never know "where" to play the notes.. very different from a piano or wind instrument .. I'm digressing. Thanks for this lesson !

  96. 👍😊🇸🇪

  97. Man, you’re great! Thank you!

  98. Great!! But.. in spanish??

  99. So, in a nutshell, is ALL improvisation composed of arpeggios (with inversions of it too), scale notes and chromaticism?

  100. Great insight as usual Jens. It’s ok to learn arpeggios but knowing how to use them is often more tricky. Great video.

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